The Final Piece
It was a beautiful day in the capital city of Crocus. As with many mid-week days, the city was a bustling hub of activity and trade; many of the capital’s finest merchants were plying their trade and selling their wares to people with the coin to purchase them - usually with far more jewels in their hands than in their heads. As the day progressed past noon, the markets came into full swing. The hustle and bustle of thousands of people moving through the city to purchase goods from all manner of people, it was an incredible sight to behold. So much better was it to be witnessed from above, that only one was currently undertaking such a role. Such a beautiful day was it that many could see the large form of a bird, bright, shining pink and shimmering as the light diffracted off the surface of crystalline wings. Soaring majestically on the wind, this bird could be seen from high above; as it circled the city on bejeweled wings, its keen eyes began to pick out its intended target, searching the streets and the thronging masses for one particular individual that it was seeking. Those with good enough vision could see that it was, in fact, carrying something small inside its beak.
Those who could see the bird and could sense its nature knew that this was no ordinary bird. Brimming to full with magical power, this was, in fact, a moon crystal phoenix, a creature so rare that it could only potentially hatch on the full moon. To see one was such a rarity indeed that those who understood its nature could not help but be rapt with the creature divine. It was here, however, with a very specific purpose. It had to find a very particular place, where the recipient of the item in its beak– a letter– worked and lived. That place was known as Ilara Forgeworks, where semi-renowned elven blacksmith Tanith Ilara made her living selling artisan goods that were, primarily, custom in nature. She could make any type of arms and armour from just about anything, so long as you had the exceedingly rare materials you wished, and were able to provide the jewels necessary for her work. In this way, it ensured that her work was only ever the highest quality. In fact, her biggest and most recent large project with Lyra Karant’s custom magical crystal rapier, one that hummed with nothing short of pure power in the hands of its true master. She had been proud of that particular piece, one that had required considerable time and effort to construct. Hopefully, its owner was as pleased with it as she was.
Now, however, she was about to receive the shock of her lifetime when a large bird appeared in front of her store. Just like that, the bird began to spiral downwards towards the storefront, knowing exactly where to go thanks to a little tip from Lyra herself; as the large creature reached the cobbled street, she looked inside the window and saw that the owner was in fact working behind the counter.
The bird hopped over to the window, looked Tanith straight in the eye, and tapped on the glass of the window that displayed a beautiful suit of half-plate mail.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
Out of surprise– and curiosity– the elf maiden that worked behind the counter looked at the large-bodied crystal bird and opened the door to her store. In the back of her mind, she had an inkling who this was from and what it was about, but with trepidation she looked at the bird.
”Is this for me?” Tanith asked of the creature, who seemed to stare directly back into her eyes as she asked the question.
Caw. The letter, held in its beak, was offered directly to her. Tanith reached out to take the letter and open it, upon which she saw immediately that she knew exactly who it was from. Penned in beautiful pink ink, it could only be from her friend Lyra, who would absolutely do something like this. Tanith chuckled, and began reading.
I hope this letter finds you well. I know, it is rather strange that I am reaching out to you via a more traditional means of contact, but I hope that this letter finds you in good faith and you find some amusement in the method you receive it. This is Akasha! She’s a beautiful moon crystal phoenix, and she’s very friendly. Feel free to pat her!
At that, Tanith couldn’t help but laugh and did in fact reach out to pat the large crystalline bird that had delivered the letter. It was odd how smooth to the touch that she was, but also warm; it was a strangely inviting feeling. The elven smith could not help herself, and yes, it was something that she encouraged. Lyra had done well to find herself something like this and, given its rather placid nature, it seemed to make a rather good companion. Tanith smiled over at Akasha, who gave her a small, appreciative caw. If the bird did not mind, then that was a victory. With that, she kept reading.
I hope you are doing well! I first wish to thank you for my blade. I could not possibly be happier with how keen its edge is, or how well it sits in my hand. It has been a pleasure to wield her, and I cannot thank you enough for the time and effort you have spent in its creation. It is absolutely beautiful, and I am thankful for it every time I wield her.
To continue, however, I was hoping to request a set of armour from you; I know that you have my measurements and can make something that is suited for me. I am happy to send you payment again in the usual way. I was rather hoping for a red and crystal version of that beautiful set of armour that was in the window the day we met. Let me know!
I miss you a lot. I hope that we can catch up soon - perhaps you can take the time to come visit me here in Sakuramori. It’s a beautiful place, and I know you’ll love it. Perhaps the inspiration for your next magnum opus might hit you while you’re here.
The blacksmith smiled and folded the letter, tucking it into her leather apron. Truly, it was nice to hear from a friend, and given in such a personal way for when someone could not be physically present was a blessing. Tanith knew that times were difficult and that with guild work it was occasionally difficult to get away, especially considering the current state of the world and the things that had happened in order to get people there. Such times could be hard, however, knowing as she did, the elf was only thankful, not spiteful, that she was even considered by her friend. This was the best possible outcome after all. A few moments of thought later, and the answer came to her.
”Wait here, Akasha. I won’t be long. Can you deliver me a letter back to Lyra?” the elf asked.
Caw. Yes, of course.
There was a small smile on the lips of the lithe woman. ”Thank you! I won’t take long.”
Rushing back inside, she reached under the counter for writing implements and some paper so that she could compose the return reply. Unlike Lyra’s rather pretty handwriting, Tanith had a little more of a scrawl; it was still legible, but it would be rather evident that Tanith did not do much writing other than scrap notes on the diagrams for the things that she created. Hastily written, but heartfelt, the return letter was signed, sealed, and given to the bird. With a caw, the bird shot back off into the sky, its massive crystalline wings bearing it back from whence it came. The elf’s keen eyes tracked it through the sky as it made its way back towards Sakuramori, where she knew her friend was waiting to hear her reply.
Hours later, Lyra Karant, as she sat in her home in the guild residences of Luminous Rose, saw that her soul-bound friend had finally returned from her errand. As she landed, Lyra took the letter from her beak, patting Akasha upon the top of her head.
”Good girl, Akasha. Thank you. You should rest now,” Lyra offered soothingly, to which the bird simply… vanished. A warmth swelled inside Lyra’s soul as she could feel the phoenix bound within her once again, and smiled while she took her letter to the table inside her modest lodgings. It was a simple letter– perfectly workable, very basic in terms of its handwriting. Just like Tanith was.
Thank you for your letter! It has been such a wonderful distraction from forging my orders lately that I am grateful to hear from you. In truth it feels like an eternity since we last spoke, although I know it has only been a number of months. I know that you have been incredibly busy, and I thank you for the time you took to write your letter.
I am glad the cryst-blade is working out for you. Well pleased am I to know that you are happy with it. Hopefully you can show me in person some time how well it works in your hand, especially now that you are more confident in yourself to wield it.
In regards to your request– absolutely. I know exactly what I wish to create you that will suit your purposes right down to the ground. My only regret is that I will be unable to deliver your work in person, as I will have a yearly replenishment order coming up soon from the guard and I do not wish to miss time that I unfortunately should be spending working. I will have it delivered as soon as it is ready.
As soon as I am able, I am going to come visit you. You and I are overdue a good catch up.
Lyra couldn’t help but smile. It was the exact thing she was hoping to hear– well, except for the part that Tanith couldn’t come visit any time soon. However, that was the kind of thing that was to be entirely expected at this point. Without any further hesitation, Lyra decided to go and take a walk for the day, leaving the letter on her table. She knew it would be less than a month before something else arrived for her.
True to her word, a month later, there it was– a delivery had come for Tanith, which she had initially missed by being on her morning walk through the forest, but the guild had kindly taken delivery of the item for her. This particular item was an incredibly large chest, made of stained oak, bound with gold straps to reinforce it; this thing was absolutely ornate, and yet so simple in its base design. Given the nature of what she’d ordered, this had to be her armour.
As Lyra opened the chest inside her quarters, red-plated steel shone out at her, carrying a pink rose emblem upon its breast, sparkling oddly even behind the red plating - this was no simple steel.
And, of course, on top of it was a letter. This one was sealed with the blacksmith’s personal wax seal, and as Lyra cracked it open, she could see that this letter was far more considered than the previous one, and was even penned in a beautiful emerald ink. It was perfect. Lyra had scarcely begun to read but she was already smiling with anticipation.
To my wonderful friend Lyra,
I am pleased to have completed your project as requested. This is Steel Rose, the beautiful crimson plate, designed with your personal sensibilities and mobility requirements in mind. You will note as you put it on that it is rather attuned to magical energies; I have used the last of the crystal that you gave me to forge crystal strands into the armour that allow it to be more in tune with your magical energies. It is my hope that you take pleasure wearing this. It should not slow you down particularly much, as the metals I have alloyed together have proven to be particularly light. It is also my hope that this suits your aesthetic tastes.
Please accept this creation with the heartfelt thanks of Ilara Forgeworks, and may it serve you well.
PS: If any man tells you that you should be wearing bikini chainmail instead of plate, hit him as hard as you can.
Lyra laughed, long and loud, at that last line. Tanith was being entirely serious, but she couldn’t help reading it like the joke that it came out as being. The rose mage began to appreciate the armour that was contained within the soft padding of the chest; yes, it truly was to her liking, and the fact that it was the perfect metallic red to accompany her was just the cherry on top at this point.
She looked at the chest plate, and so mirror polished was it that she could see her face sparkling back at her. The crystal in the steel was so evident now that she knew what to look for. It was, as always, perfect. Lyra knew she would have a good time wearing this. With this, the final piece of the panoply had fallen into place.